ALTHOUGH the Duchess of Cornwall might have scrunched up her nose when handed Andy Murray’s sweatband at the end of this bloodless contest, there was really no reason.
Very little sweat had been emitted by the Scotsman, who threw this accessory into the crowd, where it was presented to the briefly disgusted Camilla.
At the end of the first game, which Robin Haase won to love, a Dutch journalist turned and said, with a smile: “Prepare for a shock.” If there was surprise, it was just how easily Murray negotiated this second round hurdle against Holland’s finest. Not so brilliant, orange.
This 6-1, 6-1, 6-4 victory over a rather hapless opponent wasn’t quite as brutally executed as at the same stage last year, when the Slovenian Blaz Rola was put to the sword in just 84 minutes.
Murray took five minutes longer yesterday but was still home in time for an afternoon siesta. If there was any irritation at his Court No 1 billing, it was poor old Haase who felt the brunt of it as Murray secured a third round meeting with Italian Andreas Seppi tomorrow.
Perhaps they should schedule him for Court No 1 again. Murray is still unbeaten here, where he seems to relish the respite from the spotlight of Centre Court.
He can be pretty flashy and play two or three great games in a rowAndy Murray
There is a pleasing sense of momentum building as Murray secured a seventh consecutive victory on grass, and his second straight-sets win at Wimbledon. He is even enjoying the novel experience of not being the sole bearer of the men’s British hopes, thanks to James Ward’s victory yesterday over Jiri Vesely.
Haase started brightly enough. But he mistimed a forehand, meant to be his principal weapon, and was broken in the third game. He never really recovered. Murray won the next seven games – he lost seven in a row when he last played Haase, at the US Open last year, in a game described by John McEnroe as one of the weirdest he had ever seen. Both protagonists endured mini-meltdowns in the searing heat.
Everything fell into place here for Murray, even the weather, which, while muggy, was far from oppressive.
So what was the reason for Haase’s obvious unhappiness? Had he had a poor night’s sleep?
Tennis players have to endure fierce scrutiny. If they haven’t prepared properly, it is hard to disguise. Murray won the first set in just 20 minutes.
Haase was being left horribly exposed. At the winning point in the fifth game, which the Dutchman lost to love, Murray’s winning shot was an exquisite lob over his opponent. Haase was already walking to his chair before the ball had bounced behind him. He barely even looked up. Murray didn’t look back.
The second set was won in 30 minutes, with Haase starting his first service game with two double faults. When Murray broke to go 5-1 up, Haase had managed to lose from the position of 40 love up on his own serve.
To be fair to Haase, he didn’t simply chuck it, as many were predicting after the first two sets were lost so quickly. A beautiful clipped shot that secured him a game in the third set was greeted by a determined “C’mon!” from Haase. While this hinted at the stirring of a beast, it never quite happened.
There were glimpses of what he can do, but only glimpses. “C’mon Robin!” screeched a fan early in the proceedings. The outburst was shot through with anguished knowledge that their favourite could do much better than this. Even Murray admitted as much afterwards: “I know when he’s ‘on’, he can make it extremely difficult. He can be pretty flashy and play two or three great games in a row.”
“Can” being the operative word. As for Murray, he was required to use only the minimum of his talents, but he deserves credit for being so ruthless.
Even though they were presumably thrilled to hear they would be watching Murray when the order of play was confirmed on Wednesday night, the No 1 Court denizens craved a contest. Their cheers when Haase began to suggest he might make a game of it in the third set were more than just of the polite variety. They were desperate for him to buck up his ideas.
He did, to an extent, keeping pace with Murray up until the seventh game, when the Scot went a break up. He then closed out victory at the expense of just one further game, before throwing his sweatbands into the crowd, and towards one particularly distinguished onlooker.